Pests and Predators come in all shapes and sizes, from the adorable rabbit to the lumbering bear. There is nothing so heartbreaking as to see the destruction left in their wake. Wether it’s the scattered feathers of devoured chickens or the partially eaten fruits of garden plants. A majority of folks I have come across are of the SSS mentality. Shoot, shovel, and shut up. Our philosophy is of a different nature.
Our land is home to the rabbit, fox, coyote, raccoon, eagle, owl, deer, bear, weasel, wolf, mole, and many more. All of Wich have the potential to cause harm or damage. In the four years of living this lifestyle, we have been blessed to only have had minor negative encounters with the wildlife. Like last year, I woke to dozens of seedling and transplants strewn across the garden. After investigating, it turned out to be a mother rabbit looking for the perfect nesting place. I was livid! Not at the rabbit, but at myself. I knew the the garden fence would not keep the rabbits out. We had put off reenforcing it because we had been preoccupied with other projects, and up to that point, had been lucky. This year we made sure to line the lower 18 inches of the fence with chicken wire. Though still in the early days of planting, it has done the job.
The sight of a long tailed weasel was a welcomed one as we are over run with mice. Unfortunately it got to one of our baby meat rabbits. Again, I wasn’t angry at the creature but at myself. The lid to our homemade nest box had warped just enough so that the weasel could squeeze in. Since replacing the lid, it has left our rabbits alone. Weasels and their kin are notorious for their tenacity, but they’re still opportunistic as are many animals.
The unfenced, or poorly fenced garden is an invitation to all manner of critters. Just as the electric tape perimeter is a poor attempt at keeping predators out. There’s no need to break the bank. We are reasonable and use the resources available to us. For example, free range chickens will be sure to have areas of cover or shelter to escape winged predators, and a rooster or two to fend off ground attacks. Llamas and donkeys are well known for their success of guarding against the canine species, and if needed, a well trained LGD (livestock guardian dog) will be worth the investment. There is no way to nature proof the homestead, and why would we want to? We started down this path to be closer with nature. All we want is to deter and discourage. If problems still persist and an animal must be exterminated, we are sure to find a way to use it. For food or for clothing, we do not simply waste life. I have found much more success and blessings when we are living with nature, not fighting against her.
We are stewards, and hunting and trapping are integral to careful and responsible management of our livestock and land. We cannot just take and consume. Something must be given back, and sometimes that means feeding the Mother’s other children.